Wednesday, July 23, 2014

San Francisco or Bust: What I did on my Summer Vacation Part 5

We didn't want to leave the beautiful redwood forests, but it was time to move on and see the rest of the western coast. Our next stop was San Francisco, the city by the bay. As we were approaching the Golden Gate bridge I noticed signs informing us of tolls on the bridge. Oops, I declined the toll option on our rental car and had no idea the Golden Gate was a toll. Blame my small town thinking for that. So we had to pull over and pull out the cell phone to go online to pay for it in advance because there were no toll booths on the bridge. I don't know how that's supposed to make it easier for everyone, but the sign told us it was. Anyway, we were really tired so we were thrilled to find that the hotel we booked was right in the heart of the city near the museums, China Town, and the piers.

Our first adventure was to spend some time in China Town. We found that it was a lot like the little villages in Mexico we have frequented in that it was stocked full of cheap touristy crap mostly made in China, however, in this case that was totally appropriate -- being that it was China Town. But there was a lot of flair and color and character to the place and we enjoyed ourselves.

The next day we headed out to Alcatraz. This was one of the most interesting parts of our vacation. I didn't expect it to be so beautiful on the island. I'm a fan of abandoned buildings as well so I had a field day with the camera.

After Alcatraz we did some driving around the city. We drove on the crookedest street in the world, rode a trolley car and people watched. We had a really great conversation with a guy on the trolley car who appeared to be a genius. SF is among the places we'd like to return some day to spend more time. The next day we hit the long road down to L.A. along Highway 1. I'll share photos of that trek next.

Lisa On Location Photography

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Magical Call of the Redwoods: What I did on my summer vacation part 4

After a long strip of gorgeous beaches in Oregon, we were thrilled to enter the land of the giant redwoods. I remember being overwhelmed by these gentle giants as a child and I wasn't disappointed this time around either. It seemed like every corner we turned we happened upon tree after tree that was even larger than the last tree we saw, which we thought must be the biggest on the planet.

After spending so much time on the road, the kids were thrilled to be able to stop for a while and go on some walks through the forest. They loved the ancient feelings, the magical views and the banana slugs. Yes the banana slugs.

When I was a kid I fell in love with the banana slugs too. But I didn't pick them up and make friends with them the way Calista did. She called herself the queen of the banana slugs and she carried this one around on her arm for at least an hour. I had her put on a pretty dress to pose for some photos for me and she insisted the banana slug pose with her. Can you find the banana slug in each of these photos? Come on, pretend it's one of those Where's Waldo games from the 90s, only it's not waldo, it's a yellow and black slug.

I wish there was a redwood forest near my home because the photo ideas were limitless. I could shoot the mother of all engagement sessions or the most beautiful wedding on the planet under the canopy of these trees. It would be amazing.

It was a challenge to try to capture the sheer size of these trees.

We made a little side trip to a tourist trap known as the "Drive Through Tree." And it was most definitely a tourist trap. You pay $5 to get onto the property and then you drive a winding twisting road to this monster of a tree that has been carved out with enough space to drive through. Unless of course you have one of those monster SUVs, in which case you're S.O.L. Remember my complaint a few days ago about getting stuck with a car that was too small for our needs, well it paid off here in our ability to drive through this tree that's probably older than Jesus.

Calista refused to participate because she thinks it's wrong to exploit this tree in such a manner as to cut a hole in it for a violation like ramming your car though it's trunk. I agree in principle. I didn't drive through it either. I left that to Jayme while I stood aside to take the photo. Here they are right after driving through it. Notice Calista's defiant stance and pouty face. That's my girl.

We spent a couple of days in the top part of California surrounded by this majesty before heading into the city of San Francisco. I'll show you some of that tomorrow.

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Oregon coast line, on which we found our own little mermaid and took her home with us: What I did on my summer vacation part 3

We spent more time in the Forks area than we had planned so we pushed hard to get to the Oregon border by bedtime. We made it into Astoria -- better known for being the filming location of The Goonies, a classic 80s movie starring a couple of Cories.

We didn't stay long enough in this little town but I really enjoyed the scenery while we were there.

We didn't drive long before we happened upon one of the most beautiful places on earth, Ecola State Park. It was the perfect location for Keela to put on her mermaid tail and pose for some photos. I pictured her sitting on a big rock next to the coast line. I chose the perfect rock for her to climb on but as we approached it she said "I don't want to climb on that rock." When we got next to it we saw that it was actually moving. Like it was alive. Well, the rock wasn't alive, but all the thousands of sea creatures that were clinging to the rock were alive. It was amazing. These rocks were under water at high tide, but it was low tide at the moment so literally hundreds of thousands of sea creatures continued to cling to the rocks waiting for high tide to return.

We did manage to find a rock with very little life on it in one spot near the end so we chose that for our mermaid rock. It was a bit awkward getting her tail on, finding a dry spot for my camera gear away from the waves and sea creatures and then posing her. We had to wait for people to clear away as well because we did not have the beach to ourselves. In the end I think we did great with our beautiful mermaid.

At the end of our vacation we asked each other what our favorite part was and this particular stop was the majority for the family. If we had to choose one spot from this vacation to return to to spend more time, it would be this beach.

But we did move on and explore the rest of the Oregon coast line. We drove all down Highway 101 and saw one breathtaking view after the other. Here are just a few of them:

Jayme enjoyed stopping at the Tillamook Air Museum, one of the few hangars built for the large war airships of World War II. Jayme has a thing for big airships.

We made it near the California border that night and stopped to sleep. We would be heading into the Redwood forest the next day and we intended to take it slow through that.

Lisa On Location Photography